AP Pro32 ballot from Gosselin

AP Pro32 ballot from Gosselin

Ballot and comments from AP Pro 32 panel voter Rick Gosselin of Dallas Morning News:

Week 14

RICK GOSSELIN (Dallas Morning News)

1. Houston Texans - There have been 46 three-game road trips in the NFL since 2000. The Texans aspire to become just the sixth team to go 3-0 on one of those trips. That would entail winning this weekend in New England, though.

2. Atlanta Falcons - The Falcons receiving corps leads the NFL with 11 individual 100-yard receiving games this season. They only had 12 all of last year.

3. Denver Broncos - The two most balanced teams in the NFL are the Texans and Broncos. They are the only teams that rank in the top 10 in both offense and defense.

4. New England Patriots - The Patriots have snapped the ball 883 times on offense and committed only nine turnovers. Most NFL teams commit more turnovers in a game than New England does in a month.

5. San Francisco 49ers - The 49ers are 0-1-1 against the lowly Rams and 8-2 against everyone else.

6. Baltimore Ravens - Ray Rice has scored eight touchdowns this season but is still looking for his first road score. The Ravens are at Washington Sunday.

7. Green Bay Packers - Aaron Rodgers has been sacked more than any NFL quarterback this season - 39 times.

8. Chicago Bears - The Bears and Packers share first place in the NFC North, but Green Bay owns the tiebreaker and has an easier closing schedule than Chicago. The Bears play three of their last four on the road.

9. Indianapolis Colts - The Colts finished fourth in the NFL in offense in Peyton Manning's last season in 2010. Indy ranks a surprising third this season with rookie Andrew Luck taking the snaps.

10. Cincinnati Bengals - The Bengals defense has 15 sacks in their last four games and leads the NFL with 39.

11. New York Giants - If the Giants are to win back-to-back NFC East titles, they're going to have to earn it these next three weeks with games against New Orleans, Atlanta and Baltimore. The Falcons and Ravens both lead their divisions.

12. Pittsburgh Steelers - The Steelers led the NFL in defense in back-to-back seasons in 2007-08. Pittsburgh ranks No. 1 this season and is attempting to go back-to-back again in 2011-12.

13. Seattle Seahawks - The Seahawks are 7-5 with games remaining against Arizona, Buffalo and St. Louis. The Rams and Cardinals are at home - setting up a potential 10-win season for Seattle with a rookie quarterback.

14. Washington Redskins - Robert Griffin III is showing maturity beyond his years with just one interception in his last five games as the Redskins have pieced together a surprising run at an NFC East title.

15. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - The Buccaneers are a defensive contradiction, ranking first in the NFL in run defense but last in pass defense. Tampa Bay has allowed eight individual 100-yard receivers.

16. Dallas Cowboys - The Cowboys have become notoriously slow starters. They've been outscored in the first half, 68-27, over the last four games.

17. Minnesota Vikings - Adrian Peterson leads the NFL with seven individual 100-yard rushing games - and the last six have come in succession.

18. St. Louis Rams - The Rams are looking to snap a five-game losing streak to AFC opponents this weekend in Buffalo. St. Louis is 0-3 against the AFC this season.

19. New Orleans Saints - QB Drew Brees has thrown 50 or more passes in three games this season and the Saints have lost all of them.

20. Miami Dolphins - Rookie Marcus Thigpen is having a superb season as a returner, averaging 28.9 yards with a touchdown on kickoffs and 12.7 yards with another score on punts.

21. Buffalo Bills - The Bills lead the AFC with an average of 5.2 yards per rush. Both C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson have rushed for 100-yard games.

22. Cleveland Browns - The 4-8 Browns have the youngest starting lineup in the NFL but that youth is finally starting to figure this league out. The Browns have won two in a row since pushing the Cowboys into overtime in Dallas.

23. New York Jets - Mark Sanchez threw five TD passes in September but only seven more over the last months.

24. Tennessee Titans - The Titans rank 31st in the NFL with an average time of possession of barely 27 minutes.

25. Detroit Lions - Calvin Johnson has caught 45 passes for 790 yards in his last five games. He has at least 129 yards receiving in all five of the games.

26. San Diego Chargers - The Chargers and Lions are tied for the most disappointing team of 2012. Both fancied themselves as Super Bowl contenders but both sit 4-8 here in December.

27. Arizona Cardinals - Since opening the season 4-0, the Cardinals have lost eight in a row to sink to the bottom of the NFC West.

28. Carolina Panthers - Cam Newton has not thrown an interception in his last three games covering 84 passes.

29. Philadelphia Eagles - During this eight-game losing streak the Eagles have fired their defensive coordinator, defensive line coach and best pass rusher.

30. Oakland Raiders - Carson Palmer has passed for 300 yards six times this season and the Raiders have lost all six games. Oakland has lost five in a row and Palmer has 300-yard games in four of them.

31. Kansas City Chiefs - In recent years the 2-10 Chiefs have doled out $117 million in contracts to QB Matt Cassel (2009), WR Steve Breaston (2011) and CB Stanford Routt (2012). Routt's already been cut, Cassel rides the bench and Breaston is a weekly inactive.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars - With Chad Henne at quarterback the last two weeks, the Jaguars have edged up from 32nd to 31st in the NFL in offense.

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Will Matt Elam make Ravens in 2016 after fifth-year option declined?

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Will Matt Elam make Ravens in 2016 after fifth-year option declined?

It was no surprise the Ravens did not pick up the fifth-year option on safety Matt Elam by Monday’s deadline. The bigger question is whether Elam even makes the team next season.

The 32nd pick in the 2013 draft, Elam has been one of the biggest first-round busts in team history. Some of the standout players who went after Elam in that draft include Panthers defensive tackle Kawann Short (44th), Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell (48th), and Patriots linebacker Jamie Collins (52nd).

Elam missed all of last season with a torn biceps, after underperforming in 2013 and 2014. Elam was a big hitter in college at Florida, but has struggled with missed tackles as a Raven, and has been even worse in pass coverage. With the Ravens acquiring safety Eric Weddle in free agency, and Lardarius Webb switching from cornerback to safety, Elam is expected to be a backup at best. He will compete with Terrence Brooks, Kendrick Lewis, and others for a backup role.

Elam is scheduled to make $1.327 million next season, before becoming a free agent in 2017.  However, Elam’s first priority is to secure his place with the Ravens in 2016.  

AFC North: Steelers LB James Harrison will return for 2016

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AFC North: Steelers LB James Harrison will return for 2016

The Ravens can expect to see Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison as an opponent again in 2016. Harrison confirmed on his Instagram account Monday that he would return for another season.

Harrison will turn 38 years old Wednesday (May 4), but he was still effective in 2015 with five sacks and 40 tackles playing in the Steelers’ linebacker rotation. With his announcement that he was returning, Harrison wrote “I’m feeling just like a fine wine. Getting better with age.”

Despite Harrison’s age, the Steelers believe they got younger and better on defense through the draft. Five of the Steelers’ seven picks were on defense – cornerback Artie Burns (first round), safety Sean Davis (second), defensive tackle Javon Hargrave (third round), outside linebacker Travis Feeney (sixth round), and inside linebacker Tyler Matakevich (seventh round).  

Clearly, there will be plenty of new names in the Ravens-Steelers rivalry, with both teams looking to get younger and faster. However, Harrison plans to be part of the mix for at least another season. The Ravens host the Steelers in Week 9, and visit the Steelers on Christmas afternoon.

MORE RAVENS: BISCIOTTI GETS HIS WISH WITH BOLSTERED PASS RUSH

Bisciotti gets his wish with draft class full of pass rushers

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Bisciotti gets his wish with draft class full of pass rushers

At the team's "State of the Ravens" end-of-season news conference, owner Steve Bisciotti made no bones about where he thought the Ravens needed to improve in 2016: rushing the passer.

So although Bisciotti didn't speak to the media after the draft, he had to be pleased with the results.

With two of their first three picks, the Ravens selected players who figure to pressure the quarterback -- Boise State linebacker Kamalei Correa and Brigham Young defensive end Bronson Kaufusi.

"They both have pass rush ability," coach John Harbaugh said. "They both get sacks, they are both high-motor players and high-energy pass rushers. These two guys are going to run to the ball. These two guys are going to run to the ball 100 miles an hour every single play. That’s really important on defense.”

The next day, the Ravens added Grand Valley State defensive end Matt Judon -- who had 20 sacks last year -- in the fifth round. Just for good measure, they also reportedly agreed to sign undrafted rookie linebacker Victor Ochi of Stony Brook, who led the Football Championship Subdivision with 13 sacks.

Harbaugh said after the draft that "I don't think it was a secret" that Bisciotti wanted the Ravens to upgrade the pass rush, "and we were able to fill (that need). I’m really fired up about that. I’m really excited about these guys getting to the quarterback.”

Bisciotti said in January that losing Terrell Suggs to a season-ending injury in Week 1 had a "domino effect" that greatly disrupted the defense. Elvis Dumervil was forced into more of a three-down role, and Courtney Upshaw never came close to replacing Suggs' sack numbers. Dumervil dropped from 17 sacks to six, and overall the Ravens dropped from 49 sacks in 2014 to 37 last season.

When the pass rush failed to pressure the quarterback, coverage linebackers or defensive backs were frequently exposed.

"I think I have a true appreciation of what pressure means, and so that’s what I think we need to do," Bisciotti had said in January. "I think we need to focus on our free agency and our draft, and I think we have to have multiple pass rushers in order to let everybody else be effective.”

Suggs turns 34 in October and is coming off his second major Achilles injury. Dumervil is 32. So the need to develop good young pass rushers is obvious. The Ravens hope they took a big step in that direction over the weekend.

MORE RAVENS: EVALUATING ALL FIVE 4TH-ROUND SELECTIONS